People Power Under Attack 2020: A report based on data of the CIVICUS Monitor

CIVICUS published in December this year a new report on the findings of the CIVICUS Monitor 2020. Its goal is to provide a comprehensive assessment of the conditions for civil society within countries and over time.

The CIVICUS Monitor conceptualises the conditions for civil society as the respect in policy and practice for the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. In an attempt to capture these dynamics on a global scale, over 20 organisations from around the world have joined forces on the CIVICUS Monitor to provide an evidence base for action to improve civic space. In order to draw comparisons at the global level and track trends over time, the CIVICUS Monitor produces civic space ratings for 196 countries. Each country’s civic space is rated in one of five categories – open, narrowed, obstructed, repressed or closed – based on a methodology that combines several sources of data on the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

One of the highlights of this year’s report is the assessment on the use of the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for the repression and limitation of civil liberties. Consequently, during this year there has been a downgrade regarding the respect of the civic space in many countries around the world. In addition, the report evaluates the top ten violations to civic freedoms over the year which include the detention of protesters, harassment and censorship. However, it also considers a positive aspect: in many countries massive protests were often the key factor that led to positive changes, as was the case in Chile and in many states of the U.S.A.

The report then carries out a detailed analysis of the state of civil society in the different regions of the world. In the Americas, the main violations of civil liberties were intimidation, harassment, attacks on journalists, the detention of protesters, and the use of excessive force by the security forces. Furthermore, four countries in the region downgraded in their ranking: The United States, Chile and Ecuador went from “reduced” to “obstructed”, and Costa Rica went from “open” to “reduced”. As for Argentina, the country’s civic space remains classified as “reduced”. But it is not all bad news. There were also positive events, in particular 22 good news stories about positive civil society developments, 14 about positive court rulings and 9 about the release of human rights defenders.

Finally, the report puts forward recommendations for both states and regional and international bodies, as well as for donors, on how to strengthen civic space and improve respect for civil society freedoms.

To access the full report, visit

Source: CIVICUS (2020). People Power under Attack 2020. A report based on data from the CIVICUS Monitor.


RACI’s year-end campaign ends: #ArticularParaFortalecer

During the last month RACI carried out the #ArticularParaFortalecer campaign with the aim of reviewing all the monumental work that Civil Society has done this year, understanding how important the articulation and culture of networking has been for this.

In this way, with the contributions from more than 15 member organizations, content was created and shared on RACI’s social networks to make the work of CSOs visible and promote the importance of joint work. The content consisted of short videos submitted by members of the network, who commented on the challenges that occurred this year and how networking helped overcome them.

All the members who participated agreed that networking was essential to face this challenging year because it allowed sharing spaces for reflection, training and containment, while collaborative work allowed them to reinvent themselves in times of crisis, which put in evidences the need to work together with other organizations. In addition, being part of a network like RACI was also vital to give importance to CSOs in the dialogue table with the State, as well as to reach places that perhaps working individually would not be possible. In conclusion, the most important thing was the fundamental role played by the coordinated work between the organizations to face the challenges of the pandemic context and continue influencing society.

To see the campaign videos, I followed the hashtag #ArticularParaFortalecer on social media, and RACI on Instagram and Facebook.


DIGNA launched a new app seeking for greater inclusion

The Diversity & Inclusion Group for Networking and Action (DIGNA) took a fundamental step towards greater diversity and inclusion within civil society organizations. With the launch of a self-assessment tool on diversity and inclusion, civil society organizations can access new and innovative solutions to inclusion and diversity problems.

The digital platform operates through a self-assessment that civil society organizations can make in seven divergent categories, in which they will be presented with statements that may or may not reflect the situation of the social organization. Once self-assessment is complete, the platform provides information that helps determine the status of diversity and inclusion standards and practices in the workplace.

This new and innovative development pursues the fundamental goal that civil society organizations embark on a path towards greater inclusivity, diversity and sensitivity to the needs, identities and backgrounds of their members. Self-assessment and subsequent reflection on themselves are the first steps in understanding the situation and promoting practices that encourage a fairer and more equitable work environment.

This breakthrough represents a tool of countless importance that can help civil society organizations become inspiring models and champions of diversity, helping to build a better, more cooperative, socially fairer and kinder world.

For more information, visit


2020 for Civil Society

The year 2020 has marked a before and after for practically all communities in the world at all possible latitudes. Most of us have been taken by surprise by these events and have insisted on thinking of this context as a new normality, when, in fact, organizations such as the WHO and the Academy have been warning about how inequitable access to health is; about the increase in treatable and avoidable infectious diseases (given that there are vaccines for them); and about the danger of the development of epidemics due to new diseases, among other points.

A little over two years ago, the working group dedicated to health within the G-20 Civil-20 Affinity Group – in which RACI was co-chair – emphasized in one of its sessions the main aspects that would cross health in the future: large population displacements and a highly globalized world in which diseases would spread at astronomical speed. I believe that, like the writer of these lines, most of the audience present that day will have interpreted what it was said as belonging to the distant future. Well, two years later and two decades into the 21st century, it seems that we are beginning to feel its effects and it raises serious questions about how these transformations will affect Civil Society.


I would like to reassess what it was like this year for the social sector. From RACI, we have developed the survey Civic Perspective in front of Covid-19 –whose findings we will be compiling in a publication that will be available during the month of January 2021–, a version of our traditional study adapted to the pandemic situation. Having started in 2018, and already having a first approximation to the characteristics of our organizations –of which we do not have official data of any kind– we decided this year to work on the basis of a quali-quantitative approach. Given the extraordinary nature of the situation, we went out to listen to the voices of our members and allies, instead of just making assumptions about what the organizations were experiencing. In this way, we identified the dimensions we wanted to explore and we further opened the game to our main interlocutors. 79 RACI members answered the open survey that allowed us to construct relevant information to better understand the situation of the organizations during the events of Covid-19. We then opened the consultation to non-member organizations, reaching a total of 270 responses.


So, what is the state of affairs of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)?

 One of the most important points was to observe the enormous capacity for adaptation that the organizations exhibited during the most restrictive months of the Obligatory and Preventive Social Isolation (ASPO, for its Spanish acronym) – from April to June. Almost all of the organizations (99%) had implemented changes to continue functioning and reported being operational to varying degrees. More than half of the organizations consulted said they were operational at a level higher than 60% of the usual level. This was a great effort for the sector since it not only had to face restrictions to operate, but also received increasing demands during this period. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that the demands on their organizations increased and another 21% said that they remained stable. In addition, 73% of respondents said they had not seen any increase in their resources to deal with the pandemic. It seems that organizations have already adapted to the endemic lack of financial resources in the sector. Year after year, we are seeing the enabling space for organizations slowly shrinking, which is especially evidenced by the diminishing funding opportunities. We can consider this habit to have been key to adapting to the pandemic and the restrictions that were put in place to shovel it. Another quality experienced as a strength by the respondents is the excellence and commitment of the teams, as they have been able to adapt to adverse conditions. The social commitment to the cause and vision of the organizations was another highlight. Some studies suggest that during the pandemic a growing trend towards individual donation and volunteering developed. These are trends that will have to wait to see if they will be more than the consequence of an extraordinary context. The level of organizational articulation was also considered another of the strengths of CSOs. The promotion of a culture of networking is one of the pillars of RACI and has been the theme of our year-end campaign: #ArticularparaFortalecer (Articulate for Strength).

However, despite the capacity to adapt and the strengths found in the sector, the level of concern among CSOs appears to be extremely high: there is concern about the sustainability of salaries in the short and medium term; concern about the general economic context of Argentina; concern about the decline of donors of all types; and concern about the possibility of not being able to continue supporting the target population. In addition, 8 out of 10 respondents expect the situation to worsen or remain the same during the upcoming years.


In short

To sum up, CSOs have made an enormous effort this year in extremely adverse conditions, and they have made very clear their great capacity to adapt and their commitment to the communities and causes with which they work. They have shown the place that they occupy in our society, despite not having been taken into account in decision-making spheres and having had to complain about special permits for movement and the application of measures that make the legal and fiscal requirements imposed on them more flexible. The maturity of the sector has also been reflected in its professionalism and its high appreciation of the cooperation/articulation instances – the work in articulation was weighted among the first places of the strengths with 47% and it also occupies one of the first places among the initiatives developed during the pandemic. This is a very positive sign for a future that is coming up uncertain and worrying.

What must be added is that Civil Society alone cannot cope with the ravages of the social and economic crisis. These are based on an Argentina where inequity and disparity have been deepening, and, as one of the respondents mentioned, we are in danger of making these problems increasingly structural if we do not reverse the negative trends.

As proposed by the Agenda 2030, there are a multiplicity of actors that are called to play a preponderant role in the transformation of reality together with the Civil Society such as the State, the Local Private Sector and the International Cooperation Sector. This is a concern, since when we showed the results obtained from the survey of Foundations and Companies that carried out Local Private Social Investment (ISPL) at the beginning of this year, which crystallized in the ISPL 2020 Board of Directors (second edition), we observed the serious deficit in terms of diversification of support -which is mostly concentrated in donations in kind- and of the topics supported. The magnitudes of support could not even be measured because there is no public information available to do so: it is worth noting that 40% of the companies consulted did not have CSR reports on their websites and those that did were from previous years, that is, they contained outdated information. In the reports found there was also no information available on support amounts and award forms/criteria. This implies a serious lack of accountability.

In terms of international cooperation, the Latin American region continues to occupy an intermediate status between the most favored and most disadvantaged regions of the world, and it is also subject to the measurements made by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which are renewed every 2-3 years. In regions like ours, where the main problem is inequality, alternative measurement tools are needed that better reflect local realities. In a recent study conducted by CIVICUS, it became clear that the region has scarce resources that are exclusively needed by CSOs and that competition for resources also reflects the aforementioned inequalities in the region, since local organizations must compete with government agencies, the private sector, international NGOs and international organizations for funds.

In this complex scenario, we must ask ourselves whether our interlocutors will be equally flexible and committed; and whether they will be willing to take on the important role that they play alongside Civil Society in the mission of leaving no one behind.


Luana Esquenazi

Research Area Coordinator


We have coordinated a Diversity and Inclusion Workshop with organizations from all over Latin America!

In November, RACI coordinated a virtual workshop on Diversity and Inclusion (D & I) for the Transparency International chapters in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The objective of the workshop was to work with organizations the dimensions of D&I established by DIGNA, with the purpose of contributing to creating more diverse and inclusive organizations. During two meetings, we worked on useful tools and knowledge to start a process of change in the work culture of CSOs. RACI contributed to the meeting with a focus on institutional development, regional and global perspective and the expertise provided by the culture of networking. On the one hand, the workshop sought to increase the capacities and resources of organizations to improve practices and policies around D&I. On the other hand, it sought to continue promoting networking and the exchange of resources and information among CSOs from different countries.

Regarding the dynamics of the workshop, multiple group activities and “self-assessment” exercises were carried out by countries, with a view to identifying potential D&I work focuses in their organizations.

To enrich the experience even more, during the second day, we had the presence of a panel of experts who work on different dimensions of D&I: Gisela Dohm, Member of the Political Area and Senior Researcher in the Latin American Justice and Gender Team; Andrea Rivas, President of Diverse Families Association of Argentina; Lisa Kerner, Director of Brandon for equality, equal rights and opportunities Civil and Cultural Association.

By way of conclusion, we would like to emphasize that the focus was on the need to have an intersectional view of reality, taking into account the situations of privilege and oppression that people experience within our societies and organizations.

From RACI we are very happy with the results of this meeting! It was possible to perceive and verify, through the responses of the Workshop Evaluation Form, a big interest on the part of the participants in the subject of D&I.

We intend to continue deepening and accompanying the organizations in this learning process and we are interested in creating with the members of the network a working group that can contribute to the D&I problem in our organizations!

Thank you very much Transparency International for trusting us, the panel of experts for their commitment and all the participants!


The 2020-2022 Executive Committee roles have been assigned!

With great joy, we would like to communicate that, during the December Board Meeting, the roles of the members of the Executive Committee for the period 2020-2022 were established.

The Committee is responsible, among other things, for assisting in the implementation of the annual action plan and developing political actions in line with the medium and long-term strategy, being, in addition, a great support from the Executive Directorate in its day-to-day work.

The Executive Committee 2020-2022 is composed as follows:

Daniel Pomerantz, AMIA: President.

Mariela Belski, Amnesty International Argentina: Vice President.

Natalia Gherardi, Latin American Justice and Gender Team (ELA): Secretary. Marisa Giraldez, Fundación Banco de Alimentos: Treasurer.

Manuel Jaramillo, Fundación Vida Silvestre: Regular Member.

Diego Aguilar, Fundación León: Alternate Member

Virgilio Gregorini, TECHO: Lead Account Auditor

Nicolás Federico, Fundación Reciduca: Deputy auditor.

We are very happy with the results! We are confident in the potential of this great team and we look forward to working together to continue growing.

Thank you for your commitment to the Network!